About ten years ago I started to research my family tree through the Historical Society and the records through Latter Day Saints in Savannah, Georgia. I had been asking questions a few years before and recording answers from some of the elder family members, but now most of those are gone, all that is left are letters, legal documents and stories that have been passed down verbally through the generations. The hardest thing is that everyone has a minimum of four sides to their family, which are equally important, but very hard to research all at the same time. I had talked to various people about researching my family tree; they expressed excitement, but also issued warnings. They often said that you always find out things that you may wonder if you really want to know. Even if it doesn't affect you, it may have a negative effect on others in your family. This has been something that has interested me for some time so I decided to proceed.
In 1998, I discovered that my paternal grandfather, Nathaniel H. Keitt, had another wife before marrying my grandmother, Irene Sapp, to a woman named Rebecca. When I asked some of the family nobody knew anything about it, but my Aunt Ilee, which is my father's sister, thought that she had heard something about this before but with my grandmother now having Alzheimer, we couldn't ask her. It wasn't until years later, after my Aunt Ilee's death that I found my grandparents' marriage license on which he had stated that he was married before to Rebecca and his wife was deceased. So it was under our noses all the time. I initially discovered this information from looking through the city directory of 1930, which was prior to my grandparents nuptials. It was a great feeling when I found the information because it made me feel like a true historian. I am determined to finish this project, and it may take years to complete, but I am determined to stick with it until its completion. When researching genealogy information on the Internet it can surely consume a great deal of your time. I am not going to be able to allow it to consume all of my time because of the various other projects that I have going on, but I will devote consistent time to making it happen, and enjoy the discoveries.
My cousin, Jesse McRae, who is like a brother to me, and I are working on the Ryals side of the family together, because that is our connection, and it has been fun. We have been sending out a great deal of emails to others in the family that are also contributing to the project. We want to do this so we will know the lives of our ancestors as well as for our children to understand and embrace their heritage. It will be a long journey, but I will keep you updated.
The picture is my beginning, my parents on their wedding day, Betty Jean Ryals and Vincent Calvin Keitt.